Talk about getting in shape.
Athletes often need to add tons of mass and muscle to excel at their respective sports, but sometimes things can get out of control.
Whether it’s going on an eating binge in the offseason and showing up overweight, or adding too much muscle that ends up slowing an athlete down, sometimes players need to cut weight—and a lot of it. The results can often times be shocking, but they also can lead to athletes regaining the proper size they need to get back on track.
Staying in shape is hard enough as it is for athletes, but when things go off the rails, there is only one solution to the problem: ditching the weight. Athletes can do this in a number of ways, including hitting the gym hard—with the right workouts of course—creating a whole new nutritional plan, or changing up their daily routine to avoid that after-practice stop for fast food.
On this list, Men’s Fitness take a look at some of the biggest weight changes for sports stars over the years. While some of the athletes made the change while they were still playing, others have slimmed down considerably after their careers were over.
Here is a look at the most incredible sports weight loss stories:
Eddie Lacy, NFL
Lacy was called out by his head coach at the end of the 2015 season for putting on too much weight—and clearly those comments made an impact. Lacy’s performance had suffered due to his weight gain—he put up the lowest totals in rushing yards, touchdowns, and rushing average in his career that season—but he eventually got things back on track.
After working out in the offseason with P90x founder Tony Horton, Lacy showed up to 2016 offseason workouts looking noticeably slimmer. Lacy’s public debut with his new figure came in an all-Alabama running back photo alongside Derrick Henry, Trent Richardson, and Mark Ingram, and the results were clear: Lacy had slimmed down and gotten back in shape.
— Iท βα๓a ไ ㅜяบรт™ RTR (@BamaPride143) April 17, 2016
CC Sabathia, MLB
The New York Yankees pitcher has always been a big dude—but things got a bit out of control in 2010, when he stretched the pinstripes at 315 pounds. The Bronx Bombers asked him to drop some weight, and he obliged, surprising everyone by showing up to spring training at 290 pounds and looking much slimmer. What did it? Laying off the Cap'n Crunch, according to Sabathia.
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) January 20, 2014
Pablo Sandoval, MLB
You don’t get a nickname like Kung Fu Panda for being skinny. Through his career, Sandoval has gone from being just big to massively overweight—including in 2013, when he tipped the scales at nearly 300 pounds at the start of his season for the San Francisco Giants. But by 2014, Sandoval had shed a good chunk of that weight, coming into spring training over 40 pounds lighter and looking much more athletic and healthy. It worked, too: The third baseman played a major part in the Giants winning the World Series later that year.
— 95.7 The GAME (@957thegame) January 16, 2014
JaMarcus Russell, NFL
When the Oakland Raiders selected Russell with the number one overall pick in 2007, it looked like the team was getting an athletic freak. Coming out of the NFL draft, Russell was at 265 pounds and had one of the strongest arms among quarterbacks. Instead, he ended up one of the biggest busts in league history—and his expanding waistline didn't help.
Russell put on weight and by 2010 he was up near 300 pounds, which led the Raiders to release him before the season started. After a few years, Russell tried to make a comeback in the NFL and he showed off a new svelte figure after shedding 50 pounds in workouts. Russell tried out for the Chicago Bears that offseason, but did not make the roster.
— TEST FootballAcademy (@TEST_Football) June 15, 2013
Jesus Montero, MLB
Montero was once considered a top prospect for the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners, but weight issues got in the way of success in the major leagues. Montero was a disappointment during his time in Seattle, and the lowest point came during spring training in 2014 when he showed up weighing nearly 270 pounds.
— Turnesaurus (@Turnesaurus) February 21, 2014
By the next spring, Montero was looking like a completely different person—eliminating the flab and stunning everyone with his new 235-pound figure.
A couple pics of Jesus Montero. pic.twitter.com/04jcdNMyBx
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) February 19, 2015
Jeff Saturday, NFL
Saturday was one of the most dominant centers in the NFL during the course of his career—meaning he was a big dude who excelled at pushing around other big dudes. But once Saturday retired after the 2012 season, he quickly dropped his fighting weight, leaning out from 300 pounds down to 230 pounds after leaving the league to join ESPN. (And they say the camera adds 10 pounds.)
Like Matt Birk, Jeff Saturday has lost a lot of weight since retiring. No wonder the Broncos couldn't lure him back. pic.twitter.com/wILRS2gq7q
— David P. Woods (@davidpwoods) August 12, 2013
Dmitri Young, MLB
During his last season in the majors, Young weighed around 300 pounds, making him one of the heaviest players to ever play in the major leagues. Young retired in 2010, and by 2014, Young was down to around 205 pounds and looking like a brand-new person. (Nevermind the BaCoN shirt.)
Dmitri Young, former National (2007-08, '07 All-Star), is at GABP. He is literally half the man he used to be ... pic.twitter.com/RO9cc8mhPO
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 25, 2014
Kyle Lowry, NBA
The Toronto Raptors point guard didn't lose a ton of weight before the start of the 2015-16 season, but he dropped enough to make a serious impact on the look of his body. Lowry—who'd looked decidedly doughy at 210—dropped 15 pounds and ended up with just 4.3 percent body fat after extensive workouts while preparing for the upcoming season. Teammates and coaches barely recognized Lowry, who said that cardio work and bike riding were the keys to his weight loss.
Colin Kaepernick, NFL
Kaepernick is one of the most athletically gifted players in the NFL, but he gained some weight after sustaining injuries in the 2015 season that required surgery. That didn't keep Kaepernick down for long, though—he got back in the gym, becoming a leaner and more lithe version of the quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013.
Kendrick Perkins, NBA
Perkins made a name for himself in the NBA as a big man through his career, usually weighing in well over 280 pounds. But after dealing with an injury at the end of the 2010-11 season, Perkins came into training camp looking much thinner. Even though he'd only dropped to 270 pounds, he looked much more athletic and trim than he ever had before in his career.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 10, 2011
Rex Ryan, NFL
Okay, so he's not exactly an athlete, but Ryan's weight-loss endeavors are some of the most dramatic in American sports. He was famously portly—nearly 350 pounds, by some accounts—after his first season with the New York Jets in 2009, leading him to get lap-band surgery the following year. Over the next few years, Ryan managed to keep his weight down, and he dropped 130 pounds by the time he took over the Buffalo Bills before the 2015 season.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) December 29, 2014